Lifetime Education And Research Network, Inc. (LEARN) is working with a number of organizations to create an important historical program and product. It  includes a theatrical production, which premiered in South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana, during June and July, 2015; a television production of the play for broadcast and distribution to schools and libraries, which premiered spring of 2016 (South Bend at the History Museum and Elkhart at Ruthmere); as well as related educational materials.

The purpose of this project is to show the influence of the Civil War and its aftermath, both positive and negative, on the upper Midwest, specifically the municipalities of South Bend, Elkhart and Mishawaka, Indiana. The effect of the Civil War on this region is much greater than most realize. The war touched all facets of people’s lives: family, social, economic, political, etcetera. This project will show the costs—the suffering and the loss of life—and the positive outcomes—the end of slavery and the preservation of the nation, as well as the growth of local industry and of these communities.

This dramatized history/docudrama follows the intersecting stories of eleven people, all but one historical residents of the South Bend/Mishawaka/Elkhart area.  Their stories are told from the start of the Civil War through 1890.

Our video of the theatrical production is not quite finished but click on the trailer to see scenes from the beginning of the show, the end of Act 1, and part of Act 2.  

CLICK HERE to see more about the  premiere theatrical presentation, and its cast and crew.             

For information on making a contribution to the educational component of this project please click here .

The video production was overseen by Donnie Rogers and Grass Roots Media, crew members included:

Technical Director Dave Morgan
Floor Director Donnie Rogers
Engineer   Ken Kuespert
Video   Gary Banks, Phil Patnaude, Scott Wadzinski
Audio  Dana Mroczek
Audio Assist Andrea Rogers
 
FINAL PROJECT COMPONENTS

The final project will contain five parts:

1. A theatrical script. The script involves metatheatre techniques (similar to “Our Town,” for example) through the use of narration, interaction with the audience and limited set and prop elements. The script is a docudrama. All characters are based on actual people but some actions, interactions, connections and experiences of individuals will be dramatized and fictionalized.

2. Theatrical productions. Premiered by Elkhart Civic Theater at the Bristol Opera House during June, 2015 and by The Acting Ensemble at The History Museum in South Bend during July, 2015.

3. A video of the theatrical production. Premiered at The History Museum in South Bend in March, 2016 and in Elkhart at Ruthmere in April, 2016.

4. A visual presentation of historically important objects. This includes historical photographs, artworks and artifacts, as well as photographs and video clips of current monuments. This will be used as the backdrop/set (projected in rear or front projection in the theatrical productions of the script).

5. Educational materials. Created to provide support for teachers and show how the project can be used in an educational environment. Teachers will be able to use the theatrical production video as a stand-alone or as a model for the students creating their own theatrical presentation. The visual backdrop will also be available for teacher and other production use.

THE PLAY

This dramatized history/docudrama follows the intersecting stories of eleven people, all but one residents of the South Bend/Mishawaka/Elkhart, Indiana area.  Their stories begin at the start of the Civil War and continue until 1890. The people include:

1. Elijah Hastings Powell: Our narrator.  A Union Army soldier of the 1st Michigan Colored Infantry Regiment he rose to level of Sergeant.  After the war he became a barber in Mishawaka.

2. Schuyler Colfax, Jr.:  Local newspaper owner, member of US Congress during the Civil War and U.S.. Vice President after the war.

3. William Corby, CSC:  Held several positions with his order; twice president of the University of Notre Dame; was a Chaplin in the Union Army.

4. Mother Angela Gillespie, CSC : The first American to head Saint Mary's Academy (now St. Mary’s College). Under her direction the school moved from Michigan to its present site in 1855. When the request from the governor of Indiana for nurses to assist the Union Army’s wounded was sent out, Mother Angela and St. Mary’s responded.

5. Silas Baldwin: Local Elkhart Businessman. Responsible for the building of the Elkhart Civil War Memorial. Lost two of his three children as a result of the Civil War.

6. Jane (Gephart) Baldwin: mother of Frank and Elizabeth, wife of Silas. Lost two of her three children as a result of the Civil War.

7. Frank Baldwin: son of Silas and Jane, soldier in the Union Army, Notre Dame Student.

8. Elizabeth Baldwin Beardsley: daughter of Silas and Jane, married Albert A. Beardsley and built Ruthmere in Elkhart.

9. Van Greenwood: a farmer and Union Army soldier who saw action in many of the major battles of the war.

10. Grace Goodwin: From the South, but married to a Union solider, she was widowed during the Civil War.

11. Alice Owens: Graduated from St. Mary's School for the Deaf, then worked at St. Mary's for the rest of her life. She is one of a handfull of nonreligious buried on campus grounds.